UVU and BYU-Hawaii alumna inspires others through service to friends and African community

Written by: 
Dani Castro
Gloria Mensah and her husband, Freebody, take what they learned at BYUH and apply it to their jobs now.

Recognized and praised by her peers and mentors for her achievements both in the BYU-Hawaii and Utah Valley University Enactus, Gloria Mensah, who is the current executive director of GK Folks Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on creating scholarship opportunities for African students and refugees, said her passion for helping others and desire to see others happy makes her feel accomplished in the end no matter how long it takes. Mensah attended BYU-Hawaii before later moving on to UVU.

Who is Gloria?

“Gloria is a powerhouse,” said Salisha Allard-Blaisdell, an alumna from BYUH and friend of Mensah. “She is an incredible mother, friend, and mentor. I admire how many risks she takes in achieving her dreams. The sky is her limit and she rubs this off on her friends and family. I cannot believe she’s the seemingly shy person I met in 2008. Gloria only needs an opportunity to shine, and once she gets it, she becomes the brightest star you have ever seen.”

In an interview with Mensah, she shared her zeal to help African immigrants and refugee students started to grow in 2009 while she was attending BYUH and continued to grow when she was the president of the UVU African Association.

Gifty Boateng, an alumna of BYUH and friend of Mensah, said Mensah wants to see others succeed, “and I believe that is a quality all humans should have. Gloria is fun, down-to-earth, loving, ambitious, independent, hard working, generous and has a heart of gold. She is one of the best multitaskers I know, and I say this because she is a full-time mom and a full-time career woman.

“I have been working with her NGO (GK Folks Foundation) for over five years now, and I see her passion for the work she does for the African community. She also helps to manage other organizations, and she shows equal passion for those groups as well. She does all of this effortlessly.”

How does Mensah serve?

William Neal, director of the MBA Program at UVU, has known Mensah since she was a student at BYUH. Later, he went on to work with her at UVU as well.

Neal said, “I was her advisor for Enactus. She was such a great student to work with, highly conscientious, motivated, and dependable. Qualities she still has today.

“She's an innovator and a planner and those abilities were valuable as she worked with our program. She later transferred to Utah Valley University and was instrumental in starting an Enactus chapter there. Our BYUH chapter worked with her team at UVU during their initial years on campus.”

Mensah’s efforts include providing educational and entrepreneurial resources and opportunities for African students in need to succeed in school with the intention of giving back to their respective African countries.

Mensah said she enjoys serving in the community and helping out as much as she can. She serves on the board of the United Africans of Utah, an organization that helps all the African communities in Utah stay unified by empowering its leaders and providing them with the skills they need to help the weak and underprivileged in their respective communities. She also sits on and directs the African festival committee.

Neal said he is grateful Mensah “has unselfishly sought to serve others and provide opportunities for others with no expectations of her own recognition. In addition, I have enjoyed observing her joy in serving as a wife and a mother. I continue to be amazed and feel proud of her willingness to take on major projects, succeed, and seek more ways to serve.”

With her experience as the president of Utah Valley University’s African Association and her belief that quality education, entrepreneurship skills, and capital are key to solving Africa’s emerging socio economic issues, Mensah established GK Folks Foundation.

GK Folks Foundation's programs includes the Miss Africa Utah, Idaho, and Arizona cultural scholarship program. These programs are one of the various ways African immigrant and refugee students can apply and compete for scholarships from the African scholarship fund organized by GK Folks Foundation. The mission of the cultural scholarship program is to promote Africa’s diverse culture, educate people about Africa’s rich heritage, facilitate real economic growth opportunities, and empower the youth through education.

Other projects the foundation is working on to give back to the motherland is a clean water project and building libraries in villages in Africa.

Mensah is a role model to friends like Allard-Blaisdell, who said she wants “to be like

Gloria when she grows up. She is a kind and fun-loving individual who has a huge heart. She has a mindset of a businesswoman, but a golden heart overflowing with compassion. These prevalent traits, when combined together, make Gloria the ultimate service leader.”

Her motivation?

Mensah said she is “just someone who loves seeing others happy. I started my non-profit to help others in the little way I can. I tried to encourage others to be the best they can be. Everything is achievable if you put time and effort into it. I stand by that, and I want others to know that as well. Never give up on your dreams.

“I envision an environment that is safe, positive, and understanding of every individual’s uniqueness by eradicating simple tolerance and turning it into genuine happiness of each individual’s rich dimension of diversity.”

When Mensah sets her eyes on an idea she believes will help people and make a difference, she does everything she can to bring it to fruition, according to Boateng. “She is very innovative and is always looking for opportunities to grow, which is very telling in her success over the years.

“She is a great leader and I know her progress will only increase as the years go by. Gloria has always been a go-getter… not only does she push herself, she believes in the people she works with and encourages them to think outside the box.”

Neal shared he is very proud of her on-going accomplishments, including being a mother and a wife to William Freebody Mensah, who was also a member of the Enactus team and served as a presentation team member as well.

Neal said “together they continue to have great plans and seek opportunities to help others. I think they had these qualities innately, but hopefully were transferred through their work in Enactus as well.”

Also motivating her, said Mensah, is her husband, whom she said is her “partner-in-crime. I couldn't have done it with him. My husband has been my strength. Without him, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish anything. He is the silent force beside me encouraging, praying, and supporting me. We met at BYU-Hawaii and [are] forever grateful to Laie for bringing us together.

“I also want to mention the GK Folks Foundation team, four of whom are BYUH alumni. They are my solid rock, very dedicated and passionate. I give them all the credit. Freebody Mensah (BYUH alumni), Gifty Abankwa (BYUH alumni), Salisha Blaisdell (BYUH alumni), Nana Adjei (BYUH alumni), Joseph Adjei, Jane Seegmiller, Monica Annoh, Priscilla Vloe, Winfred Christensen, Odeh Ondoma, Amanda Ondoma, Alasdair Ekpenyong, and  Majesty Keboh”

Mensah holds a masters degree in business administration and two bachelor degrees; a Bachelor’s of Art in history from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria, West Africa and a Bachelor’s of Science in communication with an emphasis in journalism and a minor in digital media from UVU.

Mensah is originally from Benue State, Nigeria. She is married to William Freebody Mensah and is mother to two lovely kids, Freebody and Freemyra. She currently resides in West Jordan, Utah and loves watching movies, traveling, visiting new places and making new friends.

For more information about GK Folks Foundation, visit their website http://gkfolksfoundation.org/ and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/GKFolksFoundation/

Date Published: 
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Last Edited: 
Thursday, August 30, 2018